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Pen and Inklings » Blog Archive » Less is more is hard.

Less is more is hard.


When I started drawing as a kid, it was almost always in pencil.  I liked shading, and I liked being able to erase, and pencils were easy to come by (and even a sort of weird currency and point of pride, in elementary school—we had a fancy-pencil vending machine in the main hall).

Eventually, probably in highschool, I graduated to pens—darker lines, brighter contrast, none of that damned graphite smear effect.  I’m talking about ballpoint pens, mind you, not nib-based pen-and-ink drawing tools.  Just Uni-ball and Pilot jobs.  (It wasn’t until much more recently that I began to experiment with nib pens and brush work, neither of which I’ve really gotten the hang of or kept steady at.)

The phrase “line-work” is a recent addition to my vocabulary.  My drawing has traditionally been built up of thin, tentative lines scratched out with pencil or pen, so the idea of really accomplishing a lot of work with one pen/brush stroke is both conceptually and manually new to me—I’m just starting to think about it, and at the same time only now training some arm muscles to help execute that sort of thing.

I’m a hand-drawer, a fingers-drawer, is the thing.  The ball of my hand rests firmly on the page when I’m drawing, and that’s a real pain when I want to do a nice big expressive line instead of a bunch of short little strokes.  I’d like to learn to draw with my arm, but it’s hard, dammit.  It’s like driving blindfolded.  Where my fingers have gotten clever over the years, my arm is big and stupid and beastly.

2 Responses

  1. You don’t have to be drawing with your arm to have a variation in line quality. I don’t know if this is possible with a Wacom, but just exerting a little more pressure with your fingertips (or your) wrist will make the line thicker with most pens and pencils.

    The trick is figuring out where you want the lines to be thicker, but a good rule of thumb is to thicken lines where they’re closer, where they’re a shadow, or where they’re delineating something heavy.

    interrobang - January 14th, 2007 at 11:55 am
  2. Unless your Wacom is at least legal-sized it’s probably too small to draw with your arm.

    Grab some paper and a #2 pencil. Sharpen it. Now hold it so that the side of the point touches the paper, instead of the tip.

    Now try to draw.

    It’s a bitch at first but you’ll get it sooner or later – and you’ll learn to draw with your arm, because holding the pencil this way makes it nearly impssible to move your wrist much.

    Egypt Urnash - May 16th, 2007 at 6:51 pm

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